It All Starts in Net
May 19, 2017, 1:50 PM ET [13 Comments]
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Building a success starts from the pipes on out. A goalie is the backbone of any hockey team, and you can't win without a good one. The merry-go-round has already started to run with both Scott Darling and Ben Bishop traded to new teams and signing contract extensions.
A majority of the players drafted by the Golden Knights won't be with the team by the time its competing for a playoff spot. Most of them probably won't be there for more than a year. Except for goalies.
One of the good things Las Vegas has going for them is that they can put a goaltending pipeline in place and establish a line of succession for when they do get good. In my mind, the Knights should take at least five goalies in the expansion draft.
#1 Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings
Howard is known to hockey fans as top performer for the Wings and as a member of team USA. He can be the first face of the franchise which is why he will get the nod over Cam Ward. He was injured for part of the season, but still played in 26 games and posted a 2.10 GAA and .927 Save% for a bad team. At 33 years old, he still has a few years left in the tank. Howard will be a good mentor to the younger goalies in the organization.
#2A Antti Raanta – New York Rangers
The 26 year-old responded to an increasing workload with a 16-8-2 record, 2.26 GAA and .922 Save%. At times during the season it looked like he could usurp Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers number one goalie. He is the perfect guy to ride shotgun along side Howard as he has proven that he can carry the load when the main man is out. If things work out, he could inherit the top job in a year or two.
#2B Calvin Pickard – Colorado Avalanche
Pickard took over for injured incumbent Semyon Varlamov as the Avs starter in mid-January. Although his stats weren't great, they were respectable on a horrible Colorado team. Backstopping an expansion team can't be much different. He just turned 25, so he still has time to hone his game. He would compete for the backup job with Raanta until one of them gets traded. *** Phillip Grubauer from the Caps is also an option here, He hasn't faced as much rubber as Pickard at the NHL level.
With no players in the system, Vegas can take a few prospects to develop along the way.
Malcolm Subban – Boston Bruins
Not yet 24 years of age, the former 2012 first round draft pick looks like he might need a change of scenery. Tuuka Rask isn't leaving Boston for a few more years and the B's prefer going with a veteran in the number two spot. His minor league numbers with Providence have been better than average, but thus far he failed to win over the organization during his cameos with the big club. He could certainly compete in camp for the backup job, but another year in the AHL would be good for him.
Jordan Binnington – St. Louis Blues
Drafted the year before Subban, Jordan Binnington has been stuck behind some good goalies in the Blues organization. As of now, the Blues job belongs to Jake Allen and he should be around for quite some time. Binnington has talent will eventually be an NHL goalie. In the meantime, he can give Subban a run for his money with the Wolves.
I can see a scenario where the Golden Knights take a sixth goalie. They can act as a conduit for a netminder to change teams. For example, maybe a team can't work out an acceptable deal with Carolina for Ward or Florida for James Reimer. That team can make a deal with Vegas GM George McPhee for more acceptable terms.
Next time around , we'll look at some of the back door deals that could be happening around the draft.